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Want a Recession? Here's a Recession.

So, yesterday morning I stop at my usual convenience to get a coffee and the price of regular is $4.49. A week ago, it was $4.69. A week before that it was $4.89. So, when I fill it up tomorrow, I’ll have enough left over from my Jackson to buy my coffee and a lottery ticket too.

Turns out the benchmark for Brent crude has gone down to where it was in April and is now back under the magic $100-dollar per barrel price. And the traders all seem to be saying that the price is still going down even more.

Huh? How did this happen? I thought that…who cares what I thought? The bottom line is that nobody knows nuttin.’ As if that ever stopped anyone from shooting their mouth off, right?

And after all, since we all drive, that makes us all experts on how come we are paying so much at the pump.

That’s only half our expertise, by the way. The other half has to do with the fact that the real reason gasoline prices are down is because we’re heading into a recession. Despite the fact that the economy added nearly 400,000 jobs in May and the unemployment rate is still 3.6%, everyone knows that things are going to get worse.

Meanwhile, here’s Joe sitting in the Oval Office complaining how he’s really getting killed in the polls because of the high price of gasoline, and one of the twits pipes up, “I got it! Let’s say that the cost of gasoline is the price we have to pay to move from carbon fuels to the Green New Deal.”

Which is exactly what Joe runs out and says the very next day.

All fine and well, except there’s only one little problem. If you take a look at the Department of Energy’s website, you’ll discover that the percentage of our energy which comes from renewable sources has been declining since 2015. Oh well, oh well, oh well.

As for the looming recession, the head of the International Monetary Fund said she “can’t rule out” the possibility of a recession in 2022 or 2023. So, she can’t rule it out, but she also can’t rule it in. That’s quite the solid prediction, I must say.

Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which is charged by Congress to announce when recessions begin and when they end, has identified 11 such events since 1949, but I don’t see the country going to Hell in a handbasket during that time.

Maybe it’s the Pandemic, maybe it’s Trump, maybe it’s who knows what. But we seem to have developed a thirst for bad news for which the only response is more bad news.

And this nonending stream of bad news is only magnified by the internet because now the traditional news media – newspapers, radio, TV – has to compete with every Tom, Dick, Mabel, and Molly out there who pays a couple of hundred bucks to put up a blog.

The first time I ever watched something on TV called CNN was when I walked into the terminal at LAX on June 17th, 1994, and everyone was clustered around those TV monitors hanging from the ceiling or the wall. What were they watching? OJ being driven in the Ford Bronco up and down the freeway in LA.

Two hours later, as my non-stop to New York was somewhere over Denver, the pilot came on and announced that OJ had been taken into custody and everyone on the plane broke out in cheers and applause.

That was then, this is now. Now we have I don’t know how many 24-hour ‘news’ stations on my cable subscription – DirectTV – and another gazillion internet blogs and websites which start up every time I open my browser thanks to MS-NBC.

There can’t be enough news every day to create the content that this ‘hungry ghost’ (as the Buddhists would call it) needs. And there isn’t.

What we now get are opinions about the news, and opinions about the opinions.

What’s the definition of an ‘opinion?’ Whatever you want the definition to be.

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